Blog has moved, searching new blog...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

45 Books to Read in 2015!

This year I have decided to make an actual To-Be-Read (TBR) list of new releases in 2015, as the bulk of my reading each year are these newly published books. I’ve decided to share this list in hopes of others also reading them so that I can have people to talk to about books. Because I’d like to have people to talk to about books. Please talk with me about books.

These are in release-date order. If you’d like a specific genre, I suggest ctrl-F and entering it in, as I am sure to have something of nearly every genre. Most of these I won’t give too much detail in describing, but I will have links the Goodreads page for each book so you can find more information if you’d like. The books that I really, really want to read will be marked as “vital” and have written reasons why I want to read them! I’ll try to update this list as more books are announced and/or released this year, so check back!

Also, please share with me the books you're looking forward to this year!

Already Released

“Firefight” by Brandon Sanderson, YA Science Fiction. Released. Vital. Link
This is the second in a recent series by Sanderson, who is undoubtedly one of my top three authors of all time. It’s about a world in which some people are born with one super power. It’s good because all of Sanderson’s work is good.

“The Darkest Part of the Forest” by Holly Black, YA Fantasy. Released. Link

“Almost Famous Women” by Megan Mayhew Bergman, Historical Short Stories. Released. Link
These are a collection of strong women in history who did awesome things. Girl power!

“Binary Star” by Sarah Gerard, Fiction. Released. Link

“The Season Of Migration” by Nellie Herman, Historical Fiction. Released. Vital. Link
Vincent van Gogh is one of my favorite painters and this is a story about his early life.

“There Will Be Lies” by Nick Lake, YA Mystery. Released. Link

“A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me” by Jason Schmidt, Memoir. Released. Link

“The Ghosts of Heaven” by Marcus Sedgwick, YA Science Fiction. Released. Vital. Link
Four linked stories from cavemen to the future chronicle creation through the ages. The premise sounds very unique and thought-provoking.

“The Girl On The Train” by Paula Hawkins, Mystery. Released. Vital. Link
This is the next book I am reading when I finish my current novel. It is about a woman who commutes daily past this couple and one day sees something that she feels she needs to tell the police. After, she isn’t sure she did the right thing. Maybe I like this idea because I spend too much time making up stories about people who commute with me.


“Disgruntled” by Asali Soloman, Fiction. February 3rdLink

“Funny Girl” by Nick Hornby, Historical Fiction. Febrary 3rd. Vital. Link
Follows the life of a 1960s British sitcom starlette. The premise sounds very interesting and funny, and I have heard great things about Nick Hornby.

“Single, Carefree, Mellow” by Katherine Heiney, Short Stories. February 3rdLink

“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” by Cynthia Hand, YA Contemporary. February 10thLink

“My Heart And Other Black Holes” by Jasmine Warga, YA Contemporary. February 10th. Vital. Link
A girl haunted by a crime her father committed wants to kill herself, she finds a Suicide Partner and as they form a bond she questions if she really wants to do it. Sounds like an emotional rollercoaster to me. I love a good rollercoaster.

“The Unfortunate Importance Of Beauty” by Amanda Filipacchi, Chick Lit. February 16th. Vital. Link
Two best friends on different spectrums of the beautiful scale try to make it so that people look at them for more than their outward appearance. I am a sucker for juxtaposition, plus living in Japan makes me very conscious of people treating me differently because of how I look.

“Find Me” by Laura van der Berg, Light Science Fiction. February 17thLink

“Making Nice” by Matt Sumeli, Fiction. February 17thLink

“Satin Island” by Tom McCarthy, Fiction. February 17thLink

“A Darker Shade Of Magic” by V.E. Schwab, YA Fantasy. February 24th. Vital. Link
Vicious was a fantastic book. Time-travel between two Londons with magic and thieves and smuggling. Actually there are a lot of books being released this year with time-traveling as a theme. I like this trend more than werewolves and faeires.


“Shadow Scale” by Rachel Hartman, YA Fantasy. March 10th. Vital. Link
I have waited a long time for this book. It’s the follow-up to the book “Seraphina” that is about dragons who make themselves look like humans. It isn’t as crazy as it sounds and is actually a really beautiful book.

“Vanishing Girls” by Lauren Oliver, YA Mystery. March 10thLink

“Hausfrau” by Jill Alexander Essbaum, Chick Lit. March 17thLink

“The Poser” by Jacob Rubin, Fiction. March 17thLink

“Night At The Fiestas” by Kristin Valdez Quade, Short Stories. March 23rdLink

“The Walls Around Us” by Nova Ren Suma, YA Mystery/Paranormal. March 24thLink

“The Harder They Come” by T.C. Boyle, Fiction. March 30thLink


“Fig” by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz, YA Contemporary. April 7th. Vital. Link
The description of this book is fantastic, it follows the younger years of a girl who is trying to deal with her mentally ill mother (schizophrenia) and her own mental issues. It seems like a very emotional and touching story!

“None Of The Above” by I.W. Gregorio. YA LGBT. April 7thLink

“All The Rage” by Courtney Summers. YA Contemporary. April 14thLink

“God Help The Child” by Toni Morrison. Fiction. April 21st. Vital. Link
I’ve actually never read a Toni Morrison book, but I would like to. I think this is the perfect opportunity to delve into the works of a famous literary figure. I’ve actually not read many huge names in literature and would like to start!

“Othergirl” by Nicole Burnstein, YA Contemporary Superhero. April. Vital. Link
This book looks fantastic. It’s about a girl who is best friends with a superhero. I really don’t think I need to say much more than that. It’s also a debut novel, which I am a sucker for.


“Fallout” by Gwenda Bond, YA Retelling, Superhero. May 1st. Vital. Link
I suppose spring is gonna be full of superheros. This book is actually a retelling of the story of Lois Lane, I believe from when she was a teenager. Seems interesting, plus that cover is fantastic!

“Seriously Wicked” by Tina Connelly, YA Paranormal. May 5thLink

“How To Start A Fire” by Lisa Lutz, Chick Lit. May 12thLink

“The Wrath And The Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh, YA Retelling, Fantasy. May 12thLink


“Charlie, Presumed Dead” by Anne Heltzel, YA Thriller. June 2nd. Vital. Link
Two girls find out they were dating the same guy when they go to his funeral. Together, they go on a journey to uncover the mysteries of his life. It just sounds interesting, please that title. I love a good thriller/mystery!

“In The Unlikely Event” by Judy Blume, Fiction. June 2nd. Vital. Link
I have a confession, I never read Judy Blume as a child. I was too busy with Goosebumps and Harry Potter and other gross books to be bothered with Fudge or Freckle Juice. But this is a book for adults, and I would really like to read it. It’s based on a series of plane crashes that happened in New Jersey when she was a teenager. I like plane crashes. Is that something I should write on the internet? Probably not.

“Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Sea” by Jonathan Kranz, Fiction. June 9thLink

“A Book of Spirit and Thieves” by Morgan Rhodes, YA Fantasy. June 23rdLink

“The Boy Most Likely To” by Huntley Fitzpatrick, YA Romance. June. Link
That name. That is the name of an author.


“Pretending To Be Erica” by Michelle Painchaud, YA Contemporary. July 21stLink

“Armada” by Ernest Cline, YA Science Fiction. July 28th. Vital. Link
Ready Player One was a quick, entertaining, enjoyable read. It may have been a bit cheesy, may have been a bit bogged down with 80s and 90s references, but it was a book that didn’t take itself too seriously. If Ernest Cline brings that same lightness to his upcoming Armada novel, I think it’ll be really great!


“The Uninvited” by Cat Winters, Paranormal Historical Fiction. August 11thLink

“The Dead House” by Dawn Kurtagich, YA Thriller. August 15th. Vital. Link
A diary is found in the ashes of a school fire that belongs to the unknown twin sister of a girl who went missing due to said fire. The book is told in a nontraditional way, which is what interests me most. Interviews, diary entries, video transcripts, etc. will tell the story rather than an actual narrative. Reminds me a bit of The Three which I read last year and loved!

“The Rest Of Us Just Live Here” by Patrick Ness, YA Modern Fantasy. August 28th.  Link


None so far! Check back to see if I add any!


“Six Of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo, YA Fantasy. October 6thLink

“The Sword Of Summer” by Rick Riordan, YA Mythology Fantasy. October 6thLink


None as of yet, watch this space to see if I add more!


None that I know of, check to see if I add some later!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ways to be Better 2015

Now that my winter vacation is over it's time to get back in the habit of regular posting! I took the time off to plan a few posts I hope y'all will find interesting!

The New Year really gives me a great opportunity to go through the process of self-reflection. This is probably because I've always had a great deal of free time around the changing of the year due to being a student and a teacher and having this time free of work.

Here is a short list of five ways I would like to be better in 2015!

1. Travel More

When I moved to Japan in August of 2011 I had this mindset that I would spend my school breaks to travel the world and see all those things I have wanted to see and even some I didn’t know I wanted to. I would explore ruins with friends and find my way through winding city streets of countries far and wide! I would be a globe-trotter! My passport would be overflowing with stamps and visas and be battered and torn. I would be awesome.

Reality quickly set in, and after three years there isn’t a new stamp in my passport, which sits on my bookshelf gathering dust and taunting me. It is one of my biggest regrets for moving to Japan, but reality set in for me, and I found myself struggling to find time to travel due to a number of reasons. Namely, the inability to find someone to travel with. My first real break in Japan I explored the Kansai area, and it was a wonderful experience. Then, life happened and I had to spend my next vacation moving around the country. The break after that was spent saving money after an expensive move, and the following break was wasted on not having a travel partner. After that was a trip home, then saving from a trip home, then another trip home, and then saving again.

You get the drift.

2. Get Rid of Stuff, Embrace Quality over Quantity

I’ve already started this one and it’s awesome. I have a horrible habit of not being able to get rid of anything. I attach sentimental value to the most pointless of things, and my apartment reflects this. I have a wall covered in the tickets and pamphlets of places I’ve visited, I have stacks of letters written by students, and I have countless broken or useless gifts that I cannot bring myself to part with.

If I want to travel, if I want to move again, I will need less stuff.

I also have far too much clothing. There are things in my closet I wore in high school. I try to regularly go through my clothes and donate them, but I still have a hard time really cutting that number down. Last week when I cleaned out my closet I didn’t get rid of nearly as much stuff as I wanted to. Why? I don’t know. I haven’t worn many of these things in far too long. I think it has to do with my obsession with numbers.

We all do it, really, get so obsessed with having more Facebook likes or Twitter followers, the more clothes I have the more I have in general, that sort of mindset. The larger the number, the better my life is, right? It’s something that I put too much focus on and would like to change. I don’t need bookshelves full of books to seem smart, I don’t need closets full of $10 dresses to feel fashionable. Spending $50 on one nice dress vs. $60 on three cute, but cheap ones will be better for me overall. Quality over quantity! Why have 600 Facebook friends when I haven’t talked to over 2/3 of them in the last five years?

3. Do Yoga at Night (or morning, you know, whenever)

Anyone who knows me knows that I stress. I am a worrier. I analyze things that shouldn’t be analyzed. I look at all possible sides and then make up sides that don’t even exist. I used to go to the free gym at my university and take 90 minute yoga classes once or twice a week. This did wonders in just letting me take a time out and reflect on myself and get in touch with my body and the world around me. I love yoga! For me, it works. I need the centering that yoga brings. It’s a mental thing, completely, but I need mental things.

That’s why I want to do yoga at night. Fifteen, thirty minutes, whatever I have time for. Just something to get me grounded. I don’t need huge workouts, I don’t need to contort myself into seemingly impossible poses, but I do need to do something active to remove stress from my life. I've recently discovered a great YouTuber, Yoga With Adriene, who has great videos! I am currently on day 14 of her "30 Days of Yoga" series.


4. Be More Forgiving of Myself and Others

My habit of self-reflection can quickly turn into a habit of self-deprecation. I get so caught up in my own short-comings and it usually ends up as a huge ball of anxiety that sits at the pit of my stomach. I don’t really know where it comes from, but it’s there. Growing up I always had plenty of friends, did well in school, and was lucky enough to have great skin and a higher-than-average metabolism. Yet, for some reason, I always think that everyone else thinks the worst of me. I’ve come a long way in many regards, moving to Japan helped that immensely, but social events still make me slightly uncomfortable.

I also tend to be very unforgiving when it comes to other people. Not overall, but just about certain aspects. People who are oblivious to those around them quickly get on my nerves, causing me to be overly harsh and judgmental towards them. I also have a very low tolerance for people finding things difficult that I view as easy. Not in the sense of stupidity versus intelligence, but in a more general way. Say someone doesn’t understand how to cut an onion into small pieces efficiently, this would make me unreasonably frustrated with this person. Yet I just spent a good minute trying to spell “efficiently” properly, so I wouldn’t be annoyed at someone else for doing the same thing.

I need to let more things rolls off my shoulders, embrace the idea that perfection isn’t possible, and because I am not perfect I am interesting. And the same goes for you. Maybe instead of spending countless hours watching cooking shows on TV as a kid you spent all your time studying to becoming a spelling bee champion.

5. Write More

I am talking about creative writing here. Though, I suppose keeping up with this blog-style writing is also something I should strive to do, but I want my main focus to be on practicing the more fictional side of writing.

Creative writing is a very strange process for me. Where I can easily sit down for 30 minutes to an hour and churn out a blog post, it’s much different to actually sit down and write something more substantial, especially when it involves delving into a different world. A good, standard writing session for me is usually two and a half hours and depends on a number of factors.

Because of this time commitment, it is very difficult for me to just write creatively. But I need to practice more, I need to write things that aren’t such big undertakings. I’ve dedicated myself to writing a list of things I’d like to write this year; short-stories, poems, novellas, full novels, etc., and giving myself little bonuses when I complete them.

Resolutions like “write an hour every day” or “write this many words a week” are great, but leave me feeling down when I miss a day or am in bit of a writing-slump. I also need to get out of my “I can’t write at home!” excuse that I always use, for I spend so much time at home that it is just a lot of wasted potential.

Hopefully this year I can do more of what I want to do and focus less on what makes me feel bogged-down, and make strides towards becoming the person I would love to be once I have it all together. Though, I think that starts with admitting that no one really "has it all together".

Do you have any ways you'd like to improve this year?

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Favorite Television Shows Of All-Time

I was going to write a completely different post this week, but due to the headache that is currently chipping away at my sanity I have decided to make something a little less serious and in-depth. I hope you won't mind!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and are enjoying the New Year. I'm currently on vacation and trying to be productive on a daily basis, which means laying in bed on my phone until noon and staying up far too late watching Scandal (thanks Shonda).

Due to this binge, I have decided to make a list of my favorite televisions shows. These are in no particular order, because when it comes to favorites I can never pick just one.

Growing up I was never one of those girls who watched network television often. I spent my time listening to the radio and playing random video games or surfing the web. Then, one night back in 2002 I sat and watched an episode in the final season of Buffy. I ended up watching the entire rest of the series and hated that I had started it so late in the game. It was the early 2000s, which meant easy access to complete series of TV shows just wasn't there.

Ever since that night back in 2003 when Buffy finished and I regretted my lack of dedication to watching weekly TV shows I decided to try and follow shows that were running, and a year or two later my parents got a DVR hookup in the house and thus began my downfall of television obsessions.

A few years back, I discovered the entire series online, I spent all my free time watching the show until I had finished it for the second time, and it was just as good as I remembered. I'd grown up catching the random episode from time to time, but I never watched enough of it to get the plot points, to watch Buffy grow, or any of the things that really made it a great show. Watching it in full made me feel like a teenager all over again in the best way.

Buffy was my gateway.

If Buffy was the show that ignited my desire to watch weekly television shows, Lost was that show that just kept it going until the point where it couldn't be turned off. It was the first TV show I watched from pilot to finish, week to week, sitting there on the couch or laying in my bed with my mouth open just asking myself what JJ has done to my mind.

While the later seasons got a little weird, and that second season was just utter crap, the journey of Lost is something that I will never get with any other show for as long as I live. The pilot set the bar for all other shows that followed, and many tried and failed to mimic it's catastrophic start only to fizzle out after a season or two.

There will never be another Lost, and its legacy will remain in television history for years to come. This was the first show that truly made me feel something for fictional characters, this was the first show that made me cry, this was the first show that had me yelling at my TV as that stupid logo popped up at the end of the hour.

I'll confess, I've never watched the first season of Grey's Anatomy. I picked it up partway through the second season and I've never looked back. Now here I am, nearly ten years later, still watching it from week to week. I was sixteen the first time I watched Grey's, and I'll be 26 next month. It's a weird thing to think about, how much of my life has been spent watching this TV show.

It's definitely a drama, it's definitely out-there more than it's not. The story lines are far-fetched and if any hospital had as much hooking up as Seattle Grace (or should I say Grey-Sloan Memorial?) it wouldn't even be able to function, but I love this show. I love this show with some deep part of me that thinks that it can do no wrong, even if Shonda Rhimes decides a musical episode is a good idea.

Whatever drama is happening in my life always seems to be strangely mirrored in this show, and whenever I just want to let my emotions out I pop on Grey's and I just let myself feel. It is the best emotional medicine any show can provide, which is no surprise considering it's a show about doctors.

This may seem like a strange choice. I didn't even watch a single episode of Roseanne when it aired for the first time. But back when I was in my junior and/or senior year of high school TV Land played the entire series from start to finish on a loop at 10 o'clock at night for two episode blocks. I watched it every night as I went to bed.

It wasn't full of vampires or some big mystery or even full of a lot of crazy drama. It was just a real family dealing with real issues. I loved the brashness of Roseanne herself, and I loved each of the characters. Every night I watched. For 111 days.

I watched the children grow up and get married and all the drama around that. It was nice watching the series in a speed-up manner, not having to wait week to week. I guess it was the first show I ever binged watched before binge watching was really a "thing".

I love Parks and Rec. I've never once thought that it was anything less than amazing. I even love the first season that everyone says to just skip (it's 6 episodes! 2 hours of show!). The humor is amazing and the characters are perfect. The jokes run their course perfectly and never feel overdone as so often happens with comedies.

I'm going to be very sad when it ends, but it is time, I think. There isn't much more material to go through, and I would rather a show ends while I still love it than keep going and going until I don't want to watch anymore (I'm looking at you, The Office).

Whenever anyone asks me what show they should watch I suggest this one. I truly think there is something for everyone in this show, if they just give it a shot. Other shows have their niche, their specific audience, but Parks and Rec is really just an all-around comedy.

In my mind, it's a great show that everyone watches, and I am always surprised to find out just how many people don't tune-in each week.

This is by no means my complete list of shows that I love. Others include Game of Thrones, New Girl, Friends, and now Scandal. These are just the ones that hold a special place in my heart. Plus, my head is really bothering me so I decided five was a good place to end this list.

What shows do you think are great? I'm always up for some new shows to watch!